Sunday, March 25, 2012

Romans 11:15-29 – The Fullness of the Gentiles

That Israel has not been forever set aside is the theme of this chapter.

Israel which means "To have Power with God", so named from the grandson of Abraham who was Jacob, was chosen for a fourfold mission:

(1) To witness to the unity of God in the midst of universal idolatry (Deut. 6:4, with Isa, 43:10-12).

(2) To illustrate to the nations the blessedness of serving the true God (Deut. 33:26-29; I Chr. 17:20, 21; Psa. 144:15).

(3) To receive, preserve, and transmit the Scriptures (Deut. 4:5-8; Rom. l 3:1,2).

(4) To be the ethnic seed of the Messiah (Gen. 3:15; 12:3; 22:18; 28:10-14; 49:10; 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Mt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3).

I.     Three tragedies occurred in Israel: The nation fell (Rom. 11:11), was lost (Rom. 11:12, "diminished"), and was cast away (Rom.11:15). None of these words suggests a final judgment on Israel. But through Israel's fall, salvation came to the Gentiles. God promised that the Gentiles would be saved (Rom. 9:25-26) and He kept His promise. Will He not also keep His promise to the Jews?

v. 15 "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

There is a future for Israel. Paul calls it "their fullness" (Rom. 11:12) and their "receiving" (Rom. 11:15). Today, Israel is fallen spiritually, but when Christ returns, the nation will rise again. (See Jer. 31:35-37 where God links His promises to Israel to the sun, moon, and stars.)

II.    From looking at the future, Paul next looked to the past to show Israel's spiritual heritage, From the beginning, Israel was a special people, set apart by God. Paul use two illustrations to prove his argument that God was not finished with the Jews.

v.16 "For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches." 17 "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakes of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

    1. The lump of dough (v.16a). (Numbers 15:17-21)        The first part of the dough was to be offered up to God as a symbol that the entire lump belonged to Him. The same idea was involved in the Feast of Firstfruits, when the priest offered a sheaf to the Lord as a token that the entire harvest was His (Lev. 23:9-14). The basic idea is that when God accepts the part He sanctifies the whole.                        

Applying this to the history of Israel, we understand Paul's argument. God accepted the founder of the nation, Abraham, and in so doing set apart his descendants as well. God also accepted the other patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob, in spite of their sins and their failings. This means that God sanctifies the "rest of the lump"--the nation of Israel.

2. The olive tree (vv. 16b-24). This is a symbol of the nation of Israel (Jer. 11:16-17; Hosea 14:4-6).

    The roots of the tree support the tree; again, this was a symbol of the patriarchs who founded the nation. God made His covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He cannot deny them or change them. Thus, it is God's promise to Abraham that sustains Israel even today.

19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.

Paul warned the Gentiles that they were obligated to Israel, and therefore they dared not boast of their new spiritual position (Rom. 11:18-21). The Gentiles entered into God's plan because of faith, and not because of anything good they had done. Paul was discussing the Gentiles collectively, and not the individual experience of one believer or another.

22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

["Consider the goodness and severity of God". It is controversial to some that God is good, because they see only his severity; this is a common view of skeptics who see God as a genocidal monster in the Old Testament, and in the apocalyptic judgments. It is controversial to others that God is severe, because they see only the loving God of the gospels, and ignore his wrath which is revealed against those who refuse his goodness. For me the two together represent the true God, a God who is Holy must judge sin; and a loving God is good to those who receive his goodness. But key here is His absolute righteousness in judging sin even when it means that he had to pour His wrath against His own Sun, in order to show his love to us. It is still hard for me to comprehend a love that powerful.]

25 "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." 26 "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 "For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." 28 "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes." 29 "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."

1. God's timing (v. 25) What has happened to Israel is all a part of God's plan, and He knows what He is doing. The blinding (or hardening, Romans 11:7) of Israel as a nation is neither total nor final: it is partial and temporary. How long will it last? "Until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" (Romans 11:25). Read Matthew 23:32-39; Luke 21:24; and Psalm110:1.

For all this discussion of Israel the key to understanding Romans 11 is this phrase in verse 25 "the fullness of the Gentiles". Modern day Israel has a population of 8 million, 75% of those are ethnic Jews, and 75% of the ethnic Jews or roughly 4.5 million, worship the God of Abraham according to the traditions of Judaism. Those numbers are repeated in the U.S and In Europe plus the Old Soviet Republics. So worldwide there are less than 14 million Jewish worshipers who practice Judaism in all of its forms. In two weeks on Easter Sunday some two billion people who claim Christianity in all of its forms will go to church and worship to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now I don't believe all two billion are really born again followers of Jesus; but even if only one third of those are really saved that's still 660 million real Christians, compared to 14 million Jews. So you see by the numbers that God's plan is so perfect in letting Israel be hardened so that we can be saved!

2. God's promise (v.26). The reference here is Isaiah 59:20-21; and you also should read Isaiah 60 to complete the picture. God has promised to save His people, and He will keep His promise. "All Israel shall be saved" does not mean that every Jew who has ever lived will be converted, but that every tribe of Israel, every son of Jacob is represented in this final wave of grace that will pour over the world when Christ returns. The 144,000 we talked about last week is numbered as twelve thousand from each tribe of Israel.

3. God's covenant (vv. 27-28).     God chose Israel in His grace and not because of any merit in her (Deut. 7:6-11; 9:1-6). If the nation was not chosen because of its goodness, can it be rejected because of its sin? "Election" means grace, not merit. The Jewish people are "enemies" to the believing Gentiles because of their hostile attitude toward the Gospel. But to God, the Jewish people are "beloved for the fathers' sakes." God will not break His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    4. God's nature (v29) "I am the Lord, I change not." (Mal. 3:6).

We must remember that God chose the Jews so that the Gentiles might be saved. "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed," was God's promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Israel failed to share the truth with the Gentiles. They thought that the Gentiles had to become Jews in order to be saved. But God declared both Jews and Gentiles to be lost and condemned. This meant that He could have mercy on all because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

We recently saw a 50 year old man, William McLemore, who felt the call of God to be a missionary some 30 years ago in Bible College, now respond to the call. That just a small contemporary example that the "Gifts and callings of God are without repentance"; God never turns away from those he has called.

There is a future for Israel. When Israel recovers from her "fall" and enters into her "fullness," the world will experience the riches of God's grace as never before.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Romans 11 – Election or Rejection

Will Israel be saved (election or rejection)?

Romans 11:1-14

    In Romans 10 we saw Paul's heart for Israel. He laments their rejection of the gospel, while the gentiles believed. We concluded then that salvation belongs to God, no matter our desire for friends and loved ones, we cannot be the Holy Spirit. As Paul cried for his friends so should we. In the scripture this week we will see that sometimes, NO means not yet.

1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

    The concept of a remnant has always been a part of God's redemptive plan, so it should be no surprise to see it in effect today. Paul explains and illustrates this concept beginning with his own experience. God had not totally rejected Israel. There was and is a remnant of godly and obedient believers in Israel. Paul, himself, is proof of this.

    You have probably heard preachers refer to Romans 4 where we studied that believing gentiles were Abraham's spiritual children; and from that they conclude that all later references to Israel in the Bible are really the church and not Israel. But here Paul is very clearly teaching about ethnic Jews, his brothers according to the flesh, that are still a part of God's eternal plan.

2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 "Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"?[
1 Kings 19:10] 4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."[
1 Kings 19:18]

    From beginning to end, this promise is thoroughly embedded in the Scriptures. Despite Israel's repeated disobedience the Lord nevertheless vows, "Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God." (Lev. 26:44)

    In Elijah's time, seven thousand had not bowed their knee to Baal. In Isaiah's time there was a very small remnant. During the captivities the remnant appears in Jews like Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Esther, Mordecai. At the end of the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity, it was the remnant which returned under Ezra and Nehemiah. At the advent of our Lord, it was John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna and those that looked for redemption. During the church age, the remnant is composed of believing Jews. During the great tribulation, a remnant out of all Israel will turn to Jesus as Messiah, and will become His witnesses after the removal of the church. Very simply stated, God, Himself, guarantees a remnant.

    Paul uses Elijah to show that even back then, God had a remnant. This is clearly seen in Elijah's experience (I Kings 19:9-18). His day was a time of sin and apostasy, and Elijah had been marked for death because he refused to stop preaching about righteousness. In a moment of extreme pressure and uncertainty, he cried out to God in prayer wondering if he was the only godly person left in Israel. God assured Elijah by telling him there were still seven thousand godly believers in the nation.

    What I love about this story is God found Elijah alone hiding in a cave and yet he cried to God claiming his zeal. Have you ever been so depressed that you thought cowardice was courage? This can happen when we see ministry or service as our work, as though we are the only one who can do this important work for God. God looks at Elijah in the cave and says "what are you doing in here"? Elijah basically says "I was scared"; then God replies go stand on the mountain.

    Many stray away from God and reject Him, within a nation, a state, a city, a neighborhood, a family or a religious body, but God always has His few, His promised remnant who obey and remain loyal to Him.

5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

    There is no question about the fact, because of grace there is a remnant today, just as it was in the days of Elijah. We are not saved because we merit or work for salvation. No man deserves God's grace. God has mercy upon a man because He is a gracious God.

    If a man can be saved because of works, then salvation would not be by grace (God), but by works (of man). Works would remove grace (God) from the picture and put works (man) in the forefront. Very simply put, God would no longer be necessary, for man would be saving himself.

    The point is this, if it is God's grace that saves a man (and it is, just as it has always been) God will see to it that there is always a remnant of believers. God has chosen each of us in Christ Jesus according to His own foreknowledge and purpose. Just as God judged Israel by the Babylonian Captivity in the time of Daniel, in this age He had judged many with the affliction of spiritual blindness. Sometimes when debating a skeptic I will get a reply with all the intellectual power of a school-child's playground insult; and I think how can they be that dumb? To those afflicted, spiritual blindness is as devastating as physical blindness, it is impossible for them to see God. So then with Israel as our example we see a remnant of grace even among a majority of rebellion.

8 Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see

And ears that they should not hear, To this very day." (Isaiah 29:10)

9 And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, And bow down their back always." (Psalm 69:22-23)

11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.

    Paul asks a rhetorical question in verse 11. "The Jews did not stumble so as to fall, did they?" to which he answers, "May such a thing never occur."

    The Jews have not been permanently cast out. Rather, they have been temporarily set aside. Just as the Lord did during the days of Moses and Joshua, He has suspended His plan for Israel to allow a season of grace, which we call "the church age." God did this for the benefit of everyone, Jew and Gentile.

12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!

13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

    There is going to be a restoration of Israel, and they will one day as a nation, recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Meanwhile we, the church, are to be faithful in reaching out to the lost - Jew and Gentile. The apocalyptic writings of the Bible predict a huge outpouring a God's spirit in the last days including the salvation of at least 144,000 Jews. The suggestion is that these are unmarried men who could immediately begin preaching the gospel, and that God will use them for the redemption of innumerable souls during the great tribulation. So then the nations are blessed by Israel's blindness, and in their restoration. What a beautiful fulfillment of Genesis 22 when God promised Abraham ""In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

What an amazing God, whether through obedience or through rejection God is always working out His plan of redemption in us. Though Paul had great compassion for His people and wanted to see them all saved, he understood that God's plan was always the best. Who else but God could use a thing like jealousy to reach the lost. No matter how much I want to see an individual trust in Jesus, God in His plan will always be more loving, more gracious, and more merciful than I could ever be.






Sunday, March 11, 2012

Romans 10 – Salvation belongs to God

[If you have ever shared the gospel using Romans Road, chapter 10 is the finale', the big finish, when you get to look someone in the eye and ask "are you ready to trust in Jesus as your savoir"?

My first experience with this came at age 20. I had spent my first year of college mostly out of church, and my second year slowly being drawn back to God. Hallmark then had a revival with an evangelist named Jerry Johnston. He had a powerful testimony of being delivered from drug addiction and attempted suicide, when he was saved at youth camp. Since he could speak about drug abuse and teen suicide, Jerry was allowed to present his story in several local schools and invite those kids to church for a special service Friday night, and each evening during the week he was preaching our revival at church.

That week the Holy Spirit had me under great conviction not only for my lifestyle apart from God, but he also made it clear that I was to begin serving God. One evening I realized I needed to equip myself to be a witness for Jesus, and this conviction was so strong that I stayed up all night reading through the gospels and writing down every verse pertaining to salvation in one of my college spiral notebooks. I had no idea what I was going to do with those notes; I just knew I needed to know more.

When the Friday night service came many young people from local schools came to hear the evangelist, and when he gave the invitation the isles were filled with over 100 people wanting to get saved. As you might guess, this response overwhelmed our supply of workers and within a few minutes the pastors were begging for anyone who could share the gospel to come forward and help. After resisting the first few pleas, I finally went forward Bible in hand to try and help. I figured I could manage to talk to one person with my newly acquired knowledge, but I was totally unprepared for what came next. They assigned me to a group of three 10 year old boys, who needed to know how to be saved. When I sat down with those boys I was so nervous I could barely speak and fumbled with my Bible so much it was like my hands had become solid blocks of wood. I found myself unable to locate or remember any of those verses I had copied into my college notebook. Though I knew you could share the gospel using Romans Road, I had no way to find it. And in my panic that night the only verse I could find in my Bible to share with those boys was Romans 10:1]

1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

[You may recall from Romans 9 Paul said he would do anything humanly possible for the salvation of his kinsmen Israel. Here he continues that thought sharing his passion and prayer for their salvation. It's not that these were bad people, or even ignorant of God; but they were ignorant of the righteousness that God had provided in Christ Jesus. They continued to toil under the hope that if they just tried hard enough the Rabbis could show them how to attain righteousness through the Law. But Paul has unraveled any possibility of self-righteousness through the Law in Romans 4 and 6. Righteousness comes by the grace of God and only through faith in Jesus; that is why he says that "Christ is the end of the Law". In Matthew 5 Jesus said he was not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. Every righteous requirement of the Law was met and satisfied by the sinless life of God in the flesh.]

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them."[Leviticus 18:5] 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'"[Deuteronomy 30:12] (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, "'Who will descend into the abyss?'"[Deuteronomy 30:13] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"[Deuteronomy 30:14] (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

[So if a doer of the Law can live by them, would that not give another path to righteousness? Deuteronomy 27:26 says that 'Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.' So a good man who kept most of the law and fell short in even 1 or the 613 laws would still fall short of righteousness (God is Holy). This is why Romans 3:10 asserts that "There is none righteous, no, not one". But Jesus having fulfilled the Law, became accursed for us so that we might take up His righteousness by faith.]

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."[Isaiah 28:16]

[Verses 9-10 I always tell people that there are no magic words in the sinners prayer. If you believe in your heart Jesus is the resurrected Son of God, and confess him as your Lord, you will be saved. This is the sinful will of man surrendering to the sovereign grace of God. Verse 11 recalls Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus"; where there is no condemnation there is no shame. The full illustration from Isaiah 28:16 is one of a builder, a hasty builder will throw up a house anywhere but that house will not stand the storm, ruining the house and shaming the builder. Where the patient builder lays a strong foundation with Jesus as the cornerstone; that house will stand the storm and its builder will not be ashamed.

Some people build their lives on the hasty things, the temporary things of this material world. Those people justify their choices with the hidden belief that they will not be judged. 1 Corinthians 3:11 says "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ". First be careful what you build your life on; then be careful what you build. 1 Corinthians 3 goes on to teach that our works will be judged or tried by fire, and the temporary things will be burned. Salvation is the beginning of a life refocused from the temporary to the eternal.]

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."[Joel 2:32]

[No matter your ancestry the gospel is the same, those who repent and turn to the Lord, calling Him savior by faith, will be saved. Salvation belongs to God; it is not earned by man. Ephesians 1:7 "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace"]

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,

Who bring glad tidings of good things!"[Isaiah 52:7]

[Here is a call to action; we must answer the four "how's" of this passage. This abundant grace is available to those who call on Christ Jesus but How? How will they call on him? They must first believe so that they can call on Him in faith. How will they believe in Him? They must hear the gospel so that they can believe. How will they hear without someone to preach? They won't, it's that simple; but thank God He is still calling preachers and missionaries to preach. And the final how is ours as the church; How will they preach unless they are sent? It is God who calls but the church who sends, as long as God is still calling we must keep sending. Some people stay away from church during our missions week because they don't want to talk about money. Even if you avoided the missions conference, Romans 10:15 is still there waiting for you when you get back. How will they preach unless they are sent?]


16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"[Isaiah 53:1]

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:

"Their sound has gone out to all the earth,

And their words to the ends of the world."[Psalm 19:4]

19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:

"I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,

I will move you to anger by a foolish nation."[Deuteronomy 32:21]

20 But Isaiah is very bold and says:

"I was found by those who did not seek Me;

I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me."[Isaiah 65:1]

21 But to Israel he says:

"All day long I have stretched out My hands

To a disobedient and contrary people."[Isaiah 65:2]


[This passage is Paul's lamentation for the people, of Israel, who have not been saved. He quotes from Isaiah 53 a great messianic prophecy and asks why have they not believed? Since faith comes by hearing, they should be saved because I know they heard God. He quotes Psalm 19 where all creation declares the glory of God and reveals His marvelous plan.


In verse 19 he seems at a loss to understand why so many of Israel have rejected Jesus. He quotes Moses from Deuteronomy 32 where God says Israel left Him for idols but God will give grace to the nations. And finally he quotes Isaiah 65 as a condemnation of Israel. Loosely paraphrased it says for generations God reached out to Israel and was rejected, but to the gentile nations all He had to do is crack open the door of grace and the nations came rushing in to God. We don't control who will believe. Salvation belongs to God. All we can do is witness faithfully, and trust in God's grace.]



Name the 6 verses of Roman's Road and the theme of each verse?

Rom. 3:10 – No one is personally righteous before God

Rom. 3:23 – Everyone is a sinner (by birth and by choice)

Rom. 5:8 – God showed His great love to sinners when Jesus died for us.

Rom. 6:23 – Death is the cost of sin, salvation is the gift of God

Rom, 10:9&10 – We receive the gift of salvation by faith, trusting only in Jesus and confession him as Lord.


Does Romans 10:9-10 leave any wiggle room for Rob Bell's "Love wins", everyone is saved, faith is not required gospel?


In response to verses 14-15, How does the church send preachers and missionaries?

[According to the evident call of God, in the authority of the local church, with the prayers and giving of its people]

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Faith Promise Missions Testimony

I grew up at Hallmark mostly as a bus kid, but each Sunday my mom would send me off to church with one of those two sided offering envelopes that had a seam down the middle. One side was for the local church, and the other side was for missions; and my envelope always had change on each side, it was balanced and symmetrical.

So I always gave to the general fund and to missions from my first allowance to my first job. It's what I always did, it's what I thought everyone did; I didn't know any better. I grew up seeing missionaries, giving to missions, being in a Great Commission Church.

My faith promise epiphany came in 1992. I was working for a computer company called Wang Labs doing tech support, and the company was going bankrupt laying off people, and one of my customers in Southern California offered me a job. I took the job and moved my family to Los Angeles. Before I left, Mommy Walls made me a copy of the BBFI directory for Southern California so we could find a good church. We found a BBF church just a few miles away from our house, big church, big choir, with a Christian school, an Awana program; they were a gospel preaching church with people being saved every week, so we joined the church.

Before too long they had a missions conference, I got excited as this church was twice the size of Hallmark so I thought, this was going to be good. But when the time came they did not have 3, 4 or 5 missionary families, they had one missionary and he didn't even bring his wife or his kids. But it was Brother Don Espinosa missionary to Argentina, I knew him, he had been at Hallmark before, I liked him, he was from Southern California, always seemed happy, I thought this was still going to be good.

But the first night Don got up to preach, he wasn't happy, he was mad. You see he had been to this church before, and they did not do a lot for missions, and Brother Don had told the pastor this was the last time he was going to come to that church if they did not get serious about missions. He was a 20 year veteran missionary at that time, so he could do that, these young missionaries will go anywhere, they don't know any better.

As he preached, he told this big Los Angeles church about a church in Texas half their size that gave many times as much as they did to missions. I thought I was going to lose my mind; he did not know I was there, we had not spoken before church, but he was talking about Hallmark Baptist Church. I felt like jumping up and shouting that's me!, I'm not with them, I don't know these people, Hallmark is my people.

During our 4 years in California we were in 3 churches; one BBF, one GARBC or regular Baptist I don't recall how they supported missions, and one Southern Baptist with the cooperative program and the Lottie Moon offering. I don't know Lottie, but she never came by, and that church didn't do much for missions either.

When we finally moved home to Texas we came back to Hallmark and it was like I could breathe again. All the time we were in California I was afraid Jesus would return and I would have to explain what I was doing in those other churches. As hard as that would be, it would be worse to explain why Hallmark stopped being a Great Commission church. You see Don Espinosa has gone on to Glory and many of those people he bragged about here have too. If we want Hallmark to be a Great Commission church, then we have to be great commission Christians, making disciples in every nation. If you don't give to missions, please start. I don't care how much, just start. Do it every week and every month consistently, because these missionaries need regular monthly support to do the work God has called them to do. If you already give, just do a do a little more; and be as a person what you want Hallmark to be as a church.

Acts 1:8 (You have the power)

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Matthew 28:19-20 (Jesus is with you)

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alwayseven to the end of the age. Amen.

Ephesians 2:10 (You were made for this)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Revelation 7:9-10 (Behold a great multitude)

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"